Lent is a season that is hard to fathom for many modern-day Christians. It is, after all, a penitential season, and who enjoys penitence? Indeed, the very word penitence brings to mind images of re- morseful people in sackcloth and ashes lamenting their sins.
However, Lent is not all about penitence or misdeeds or guilt. Sarah Parsons writes in her book A Clearing Season, that sure, it is a time of introspection…but its ultimate purpose lies beyond penitence. “In es- sence,” she says, “Lent serves as our annual invita- tion to come closer to God.”
Actually, that has always been the true meaning of Lent for me. It is a reminder for me in the midst of all the priorities that I have set for myself to reflect and maybe refocus on the ultimate priority—my faith rela- tionship with Jesus Christ. Or, put another way, Lent provides a time to look at our lives and ourselves, not to wallow in guilt but so we can come to see the things that keep us from God.
Speaking to this, Parsons asks a question. “What keeps us from feeling the presence of the divine in our every day?” And how can we be totally honest when we try to answer such a question?
Thus, she writes, “Lent offers a gift of time and a promise of closeness. It gives us time to see our current state of affairs in complete honesty… and consider where and what we would like to be in our place with God.”
Lent also offers us the pathway to necessary change and new life, especially as we realize and remove whatever obstacles might exist between us and be- ing close to God. Hence, Parsons says, it can be “a clearing season” for us. Just as gardeners clear away the old roots and dead weeds so they can plant new seeds for a new harvest, so it is with us.
As we move into this “clearing season,” you will find numerous opportunities through our church for study and worship that will take us to Holy Week and East- er. Elsewhere in this newsletter, you can read about a new sermon series REHAB that carries us through Lent. Normally, we associate “rehab” with “restoring to a condition of good health.” And so it can be the same for our “spiritual lives.”
May we journey together as those who choose to be Christ-followers.
In the love of Christ,